How I found my dream job on returning to live in Ireland

Before you leave, prepare, learn more, network, go online, and get creative

This article is part of an ongoing series for Irish Times Abroad about James Parnell's experience of returning to Ireland after 16 years in Australia.

Moving half way across the world is difficult. It impacts all aspects of wellbeing - physical, mental, emotional, financial and relational. This applies whether you are moving abroad for the first time, or returning “home” after a period away.

Finding a job that suits your experience and future aspirations in a market that might be entirely different to the one in which you have been working for years is one of the biggest challenges of all, but there are things you can do to improve your chances and make things easier for yourself.

If you’re thinking of the seas, use the Ps: Predict, plan, be pro-active, seek pain (go outside your comfort zone) and persist.


Before I left Ireland in 2000, I had only one professional role. By the time I moved home from Australia in 2016, I had no active contacts left. Here are a few things I did to find work I wanted in Ireland.

Before I left Sydney…

1. I changed job. Because we were considering returning to Ireland, I sought different work experience to test my skills in a new environment. This helped when seeking work I wanted in Dublin. It also forced me outside my comfort zone, which was good preparation.

2. I set up an Irish company as a consultant in Australia. For less than €300, it opened up more possibilities of employment.

3. I learned as much as I could and one obtained final qualification in the last six months. This differentiates me in the Irish market.

4. I didn’t just update my CV. I reflected on my entire working life. I paused to examine all of my skills, my experiences, my values and accomplishments. I wrote everything down. I talked with people and reinforced the value I add in any workplace.

5. I read inspiring books - personal development and otherwise. It gave me confidence and a renewed sense of mission. The Art of Work by Jeff Goins (read on the plane home) taught me I don't need to seek new answers to change career. If I you "listen to your life" it might already have some answers for you.

6. I grew my network - mainly through LinkedIn, but also by asking friends and ex-colleagues for help. Irish people love to help. I connected with around 200 new people.

7. I pitched to a Meetup of Irish professionals in Dublin. Well almost. I was scheduled to Skype but technical difficulties proved our undoing. (I later contacted the organiser over Twitter).

8. I got creative. I missed that opportunity to pitch, so I spent a hot humid Sydney evening reducing the value I could bring to a client into a 30-second online video. It took more than a few takes and I lost a kilo or two in stress and sweat, but off it went into the "cloud". It would pay off later.

9. I interviewed for a roles online - once from my car during my kids’ bed-time. (Even these days, however, most companies want to meet you in person. This one never got back to me when I returned.) This increased my comfort level as I got more of a feel for the market.

Once in Ireland…

10. I walked. A lot. Southside to old colleagues; in town (which I still call “the city”) to meet recruiters and new connections or referrals; and locally to meet friends or prospective clients.

11. I spoke at a conference - which brought me way outside my comfort zone. This raised my profile in the local business community.

12. I got stood up for meetings.

13. I “accomplished” nothing most days and returned home. It felt strange to tell my wife Anne-Marie about my day. “More walking,” I’d say. Deep down I knew it was a process. But, having worked since I had my first paper round, it was unusual not to have a new role to step into.

14. I rescheduled those meetings at which I’d been stood up.

15. I told people about my dream job.

I kept fishing. I threw in the lines and waited.

Do you know where the first bite came from? Not interviews, not recruiters, not friends, not colleagues, not my network, not conferences. From the last place I thought it would: creativity.

Someone I'd never heard of had seen my video pitch. Persistence paid off. Satisfaction, purpose and accomplishment returned. I worked my first day in Ireland in almost 17 years on my birthday. Five months followed with Fáilte Ireland, which had me back in the rhythm. "Welcome Ireland" indeed.

Then? I left. Not because I didn’t like the work. I decided to push the edges of my comfort zone again to pursue a dream. I had spoken it aloud at one of those rescheduled meetings. I had arrived to discuss work in one area, only to mention my dream was in another. I left shortly after with my first Irish client.

They say luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. But opportunity doesn’t just appear. Opportunities are out there - persistence will find them.

One advantage of life-changing events is that other changes become relatively insignificant. Embrace that opportunity. Re-invent yourself if you want to. You don’t have to make anything up. Re-evaluate yourself in a fresh light and take confidence from it. Give yourself credit for making the big change. Have faith in your ability to figure things out. But don’t expect it to happen automatically - make it happen. And good luck!

James Parnell is the founder of TheWellBeingGym which provides corporate performance training to businesses, and personal life design coaching to individuals. He blogs at

This article is part of an ongoing series for Irish Times Abroad about James Parnell's experience of returning to Ireland after 16 years in Australia.